A Realistic Discussion of Sexual Assault

Let’s talk about sexual assault. It’s a very real and very scary issue. I want this discussion to be realistic so let’s talk facts. Namely that every two minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted and that 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim (statistics taken from http://www.rainn.org/statistics).

The first statistic shows why this is such a real issue. It’s something many men and women face in their lifetime. I’ve seen statistics citing that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/4 of all college women are sexually assaulted. Does that anger anyone else? I will concede that a lot of progress has occurred in the fight against sexual assault, but there’s still a long way to go. Debunking myths about sexual assault is a critical step in this war against disrespect for the basic human right to chose what we do with our bodies.

Myths come in many different shapes and sizes. A recent one was Representative Todd Akin’s comment about legitimate rape.

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Akin told KTVI-TV. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

The internet and news media have been all over Akin for his comment. Avoiding the abortion issue for the moment, what’s really upsetting about this quote is the disinformation. A women who survives rape deserves the facts of her situation and doesn’t need this false science where the female body magically shuts down pregnancy from rape.

Another myth I want to address is the constant “stranger danger” mentality that people learn as children and tend to apply to rape. The second statistic I mentioned earlier is one that many people seem to ignore. TWO-THIRDS of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Sexual assault isn’t always or even usually a creepy stranger in a back alley. That misconception is so dangerous because it leaves many people completely unprepared to address any situation besides that of stranger sexual assault.

Sexual Assault perpetrators aren’t all creepy men in the dark.

Thankfully people are starting to realize this mistake. I recently attended a sexual assault protection program called Elemental. The program was created by Ball State University students working on an Immersive Learning project. It included an informative booklet and seven hours of hands-on training. The program did a great job of addressing all aspects of sexual assault.

It made sure to include information for both men and women as well as stranger and non-stranger defense scenarios. The program featured realistic self-defense tactics (inspired by Ninjitsu) that attendees were able to practice on “Creepers” who acted out the scenarios. The programs made use of two mattresses and couches to address scenarios common to college students in particular. I learned ways to stop someone from lowering me to a bed or assaulting me on a couch as well as ways to attack a stranger. Punching a stranger and kicking someone you may not want to injure off a bed are entirely different tactics. It was great how many options Elemental showcased.

The program even had a scenario that adressed sexual assault in long-term relationships. Dating someone doesn’t give them a right to your body. No matter what, you always have a right to say no. Elemental provided verbal and physical ways to counter unwanted advances. It additionally generated dialogue on consent. Miscommunication often leads to uncomfortable situations and confused expectations. It’s important to understand giving and receiving consent.

Failing to discuss sexual assault won’t make it go away. Information is power. I refuse to be a helpless victim. Sexual Assault is unacceptable and I want to do my part to make it stop. You should too. The first step is information, a great resources if Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) http://www.rainn.org. Another great idea is to look for sexual assault protection programs in your area. They’re often offered at Martial Arts studios, police stations, and universities.

Best wishes,

Caitlin

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How to say I like you

Words can be fun. This proves especially true when trying to describe romantic feelings. Personally I like to blush and stammer when discussing feelings. I imagine it’s endearing in a Zooey Deschanel in New Girl kind of way. The reality probably isn’t that smooth, but I’ll embrace denial.  Feelings are doomed to be awkward no matter what. Think of middle school where I asked if boys “likeliked” me or just “liked” me  which was entirely different and temporarily heart breaking. I haven’t gotten much better at expressing liking since middle school.  However, I have a new tool that I was lacking in middle school, the internet. Sometimes it helps me express feelings. For example this:

Cake!

I like cake and people, but in different ways.

This would work really well, except what does it really mean. I like you in a way that feeds my addictive habit, but I probably also hate you for enabling my poor life choices. That doesn’t seem like the ideal feeling. I enjoy the idea of comparing emotions to other things I like. This is doable. Here’s some “I like you like” situations that I’ve had in my life.

I like you like I like cake. This is much better than I like you like a fat person likes cake because cake and I have a pretty good relationship. I thoroughly enjoy cake. At least every once in awhile. It’s not really a relationship form of like. I don’t want cake every meal. That’d probably result in my being a fat person and completely change this simile.

I like you like I like nap time. This person is nice. Comforting and a generally good part of my day. Maybe not the part I tell stories about, but a part I enjoy. It’s a nice liking, but not a very sexy liking. Potentially a friend liking.

I like you like I like a really great outfit. This is a shallow liking. Generally summarizes feelings towards those people who are attractive but have very little else working in their favor. It’s fun to take this person out on the town, but when alone with them it’s that feeling of being all dressed up with nowhere to go.

I like you like I like a project. A really awful way to feel about someone. It’s that weird urge to fix people and make them better. As if I have any right to decide what constitutes better. I’m not proud of having felt this way. Dating people to change them is never a good idea. Some people do this consistently, driven by some constant need to help people who don’t want or need help.

I like you like I like a good book. Personally, this embodies my favorite type of liking. It piques curiosity and has many different feelings involved. Books fit many genres and move from touching to steamy with the flip of a page. I want to read all of the pages of this connection, then go back and read them again. Every experience is a word I want to soak in and ponder at my own leisure. The only downside of this liking is that I love to speed through books to find out what happens. Not exactly the best idea with people.

I love you like a love song. Just kidding, that’s Selena Gomez’s thing. Also the like word is scary enough and this post isn’t ready to go into love territory. I do however fully support listening to Selena Gomez’s song.

Some people think quoting Shakespeare is romantic, but I’m all about comparing my emotions for people towards my emotions for inanimate objects. I’m sure it’s quite healthy. I like you like I like people who read my blog. It’s a healthy and enjoyable kind of liking. I promise! What kind of likes have you experienced?

Best Wishes,

Caitlin

The awkwardness of classifying relationships

            It’s easy to introduce people as a friend, significant other, family member, or spouse. What about the many other forms of human relationships? I can’t be the only person who sometimes gets stumped trying to classify a relationship. It’s often a tricky matter and an awkward one. Who actually enjoys the “what are we” talk? Not me. There aren’t enough options. Relationships (I don’t just mean in the romantic sense) are complicated. I don’t know you’re life and can’t classify relationships for you, but I’ve compiled a list of possible relationship classifications to give us all more options. 

  • Fellow Humans <-this works in case of all fellow humans
  • Acquaintances <-someone you’ve met before (possibly a few times)
  • Hobby In Commoners <-someone you have some sort of hobby (I’m including books and movies in this) in common with and thus share a bond and possibly dialect
  • Co-workers <-someone with whom you share an employer and commiserate the misery of having employment
  • Fraternity/Sorority Brothers/Sisters <-someone with whom you did strange rituals, spent lots of time, and probably sing chants
  • Facebook Friends <-someone you’re friends with on Facebook
  • Internet Friends <-someone you talk to on the internet but not in real life
  • Friends <-someone whose life you are at least mildly interested in and whose company doesn’t make you hate the human race
  • Substance Friends <-someone you like while under the influence of a substance or for the purpose of obtaining a substance
  • Major Friends <-someone you talk to a lot because you’re in a bunch of classes together and need to complain about these classes or study for them (though complaining is probably more likely)
  • Skill Friends <-someone you’re friends with because they have a skill you like/want/need such as cooking or juggling bears
  • Twitter Friends <-someone you like enough to hear about minute details of his or her life in a limited amount of characters
  • Bros <-someone with whom you chill in a manly manner
  • Hos <-someone with whom you chill in a feminine manner
  • Best Friends <-someone you like without pretending and can be sarcastically mean to, usually a relationship full of inside jokes 
  • Super Friends <-someone you are friends with while wearing a cape
  • Friends with Benefits <-someone who you are friendly with and obtain benefits from of some sort (usually the semi-scandalous sort but other sorts of benefits exist too)
  • Test Run Friends<-someone you have the intention of dating but are currently still testing them out
  • Boy/Girl Toy <-someone who is fun to play with (hence the word toy)
  • Fuck Buddies <-someone who is a buddy with whom you fuck
  • Significant Others <-someone who you’ve agreed to be together alone with
  • Spouse <-someone you’re pledged to for life (with or without a piece of paper that says so)
  • Family <-someone you share bloodlines with not by choice but you love them anyways
  • Super Human Friends <-someone who used to be human such as a werewolf, vampire, or zombie who you’re still friends with despite supernatural maladies

Hopefully this helps define your relationships. Often relationships fall into multiple categories. Feel free to comment with additional classifications.

Best of Luck,

Caitlin

Kiss & Tell

          I have to give credit to the inspiration for this blog post to a post on Thought Catalog entry called “Can You Remember Every Person You’ve Ever Kissed?Image

           As someone who likes lists and challenges, I attempted the task. Turns out, I’ve kissed a decent amount of people. In the interests of protecting the innocent I’m not going to share my list. It really wouldn’t be fair. A lady never kisses and tells and whatnot. Though with the digital age it might be smart to start signing confidentiality agreements before kissing people. Everything seems to be fair game. I just envisioned a rate my professor style website only for the purpose of rating kissers. Wouldn’t that be terrifying? The hotness ratings on professors are already creepy enough. Hopefully life never gets to that point of over sharing.

            However, I can share my number without comprising anyone’s identity. According to my best attempts at recollection I’ve kissed 19 people. Does that seem like a lot? I couldn’t really decide. I did some Internet creeping and found people with much lower and much higher numbers. According to ChaCha the average woman kisses 29 men before she gets married. Considering I’m only 20 and don’t want to get married anytime soon, that number seems rather low.

            There really aren’t a lot of good studies done on kissing numbers. A lot of information exists on sexual partners, but that’s no help with this blog post. How am I supposed to know what’s normal without statistics to guide me? Clearly the media is the next best place to look.

            The media turns out to be full of extremes as well. I’ve kissed a lot more people than Drew Barrymore’s character in Never Been Kissed, but significantly less than Neil Patrick Harris’s character on “How I Met Your Mother.” I don’t really want to compare myself to the casts of Jersey Shore or the characters on Gossip Girl. The media tends to adore the extremes and glorify people who kiss lots or people who kiss only a little. IT appears a consensus on the socially acceptable amount of people to kiss is lacking.

            I guess in the end there is no right number. There are just numbers. Kissing should be two people going “oh hey, I like you in a way that makes me want to high five with our faces.” Different people feel that way different amounts of time through out their life. I’m certainly not going to start judging. It’s rather fun to reflect on all of the sweet, awkward, funny, and loving kissing moments in my life. I don’t know if my number is normal or not, but I do know for at least one moment in time I liked each and every person I’ve kissed. In the end, that’s enough for me.

Best Wishes,

Caitlin 

You’re not in the friend zone. I just don’t like you.

            In an older postImage I addressed the “nice guy” issue. Now I want to address the “friend zone” issue. If one more person whines about being in the friend zone on Facebook I will defriend said person and hopefully remove some of this stressful friend being from his or her life. The main difference between a friend and a significant other is that a lot more germs are exchanged with a significant other. So presumably the difference between being a friend and being in the friend zone is that one person desires the exchanging of germs and the other person does not.

            Exchanging of germs has little to do with friendship. That is an entirely different issue. No one sorts their acquaintances into people to swap spit with and those in the friend zone. This is a lot like how nice guys want to be liked for being a nice guy. Being my friend doesn’t automatically mean I should date you if I found myself single. What’s the difference between the rejected person who is a friend and the one who isn’t? Isn’t it better to be a friend? At least someone wants to spend time with the “friend zone” person. I refuse to pity you. Friendship is not a carnival game; you don’t win tickets and then get a prize.

            I had a friend in high school that didn’t seem to understand this distinction. My friend Dan (this is a fake name, I chose it specifically because I don’t have any friends named Dan) tried to kiss me one time when we were hanging out. I politely declined. A week or so ago I had made out with some boy at a party. Dan legitimately argued that we were friends so why would I make out with this other guy and not him. Call me crazy, but friendship does not entitle you to anything. That’s not how it works.

            It’s not like girl scouts where you collect badges and then get to cross from friend to lover. People act like friendship is a waiting list for someone to date. I get how society sometimes gives that impression. Especially on TV shows where the few main characters simply swap romantic partners every season or so (like Gossip Girl). However it’s wrong. Being someone’s friend and swapping germs are different. They can coexist but they survive perfectly well on their own.

            You are not being friend zoned. You are a friend and you are being rejected. It has nothing to do with being the person’s friend and everything with not being someone that person wants to date/kiss/whatever it is you want. Sorry. Sucks for you. Go eat some chocolate and get over it. Stop telling me that girls are friend zoning everyone and missing the nice guys. It is not someone’s fault when they find you appealing as a friend and not in other ways. I’m sure someone out there would love your germs. Go find that person and stop creeping on your friend. Kay, thanks.

Best Wishes,

Caitlin

Why I wouldn’t date a muffin.

     I was at a party the other day and one of my friends said, “I’m just too nice of a guy.” Apparently this explained his lack of girlfriend and dating prospects. This led to the “why do nice guys finish last” conversation. I didn’t chime in then, but after giving it some thought I’ve reached a conclusion. It’s because no one likes cupcakes without frosting, but simply being a cupcake isn’t enough. There are plenty of cupcakes in the sea or I guess pantry…

What do I mean? Being nice is not a bonus. It is not like answering an extra credit question correctly. It does not earn your brownie points (okay, I might be a bit hungry while writing this post). Boys get really excited about being nice. Like it makes them the greatest person ever and you should immediately get all hot and bothered. Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

Let’s say boys are cupcakes (just go with it). The quality of niceness is frosting. I expect some damn frosting on my cupcake. Or else it’s a muffin. I don’t want to date a muffin. Very few people want to date muffins unless they have unresolved Daddy issues or whatever other problems. Being nice is not sprinkles on said cupcake. Sprinkles are unexpected traits like a good sense of humor, super smoking abs, or intelligence. Stop advertising being nice as if it’s your gift to humanity. Being nice isn’t akin to being attractive. It is a vital part of being a decent human being.

Think about it. Your family is probably nice to you, but please don’t start dating them. Hopefully you’re friends are kind to you, but this doesn’t make them ideal date material either. As Napolean Dynamite would tell you, “girls like guys with skills.” (I keep using the girl to guy thing because I personally like guys, but I think this applies to any relationship). Having nice guys as your only selling point is kind of like using “hey, I’ve got a penis” as a pick up line. This won’t work that often. At least not when a date/relationship is the objective. All of the other cupcakes in the pantry have a penis too.  So continue being nice, but learn some skills. The Internet is full of how to articles ad videos. Do you even know how to make cupcakes? You should probably learn. Also, share some with me.

Best of Luck,

Caitlin